Kona, Hawaii - Spanish Goats, Hawaiian Ibex, Mouflon/feral sheep, Polynesian Boar
By Gary Lewis
- Lava grasslands and lush uplands
- Accomodations: Hotel/Resort
- Food: Restaurants
- Hunt: spot and stalk
Mention hunting in Hawaii and most people think of wild boar, whose ancestors came to the island with the Polynesians 2000 years ago. There are also Spanish goats, Hawaiian "ibex" (a Spanish goat), axis deer, blacktail deer, wild cattle, mouflon sheep, Rio Grande turkeys and 14 varieties of upland birds.
Mouflon, Corsican and the black Hawaiian feral sheep make their living in the mamane trees in the highlands, where the weather brings more moisture to the grass.
Nocturnal feeders, the Polynesian boar are found in the brushy draws by day and out in the open pastures by night. With a little cloud cover, they move out earlier in the evening to graze like cattle on the clover.
Goats, which the Hawaiians call kao, prefer the lower ground in the old lava flows that wrinkle the west side of the island. There are two varieties, the Spanish, whose horns flare up and out, and the Hawaiian "ibex," a genetic variant, whose horns sweep in a backward arc. They run together in herds averaging ten to 50 animals.
The goats and the sheep have been on the island since the 1700s, when they were introduced to provide a ready source of meat.
We went to Hawaii in April and stayed In Kona. It was a 45-minute drive (no traffic on the roads early in the morning) from the hotel to Waimea. Patrick Fisher was our guide.
On our morning hunt, we saw approximately 150 goats in herds of three to 30 animals. My partner bagged a 26-inch Spanish goat and I shot a freak-horn Hawaiian "ibex." In the evening, we hunted wild boar. We saw 26 hogs. I shot one and my partner passed up an opportunity at last light.
Hunts are conducted from a vehicle (a new Ford pickup, in our case) over roads that can be described as passable to terrible. In the open country and in the uplands, spot and stalk tactics are used. Bring binoculars and expect to use them. A rangefinder is helpful, but the guide may carry one. Shots may come at 30 yards or out to 300 yards. Bring your own rifle or borrow a .270 or similar caliber from the outfitter. Snacks, a simple lunch, sodas and water (drink plenty of it), are provided. Do the guide a favor and help him open and close the gates.
There is a lot of ground to cover and many different habitat types. The hunts start at sea level and run to 7,500 feet up the slopes of Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in Hawaii. At lower elevation, the ground sees less than 12 inches of rain a year. As you climb higher, the yellow grass goes verdant green, where the ocean winds bring 60 inches of precipitation and more.
Fisher reports there are close to 1500 sheep on one of his properties. The terrain is rugged and elevation varies from 2,000 feet to 6,500 feet. Hunters should expect to look at rams in the 28- to 34-inch range (as measured along the length of one horn).
Hunts for axis deer are available and can be arranged through Patrick Fisher.
The guide will clean and cape the animal and can arrange to deliver the trophy to a taxidermist. A hunter can bring the meat home, frozen in a cooler, or donate it to the locals who like to marinate and smoke it.
In addition to big game hunts, bird hunting is available. The season for upland birds runs from October through February.
Turkey hunting (Rio Grandes) runs from March 1 to mid-April.
ESSENTIAL INFORMATION for Hunting Hawaii
A Hawaiian hunting license costs $95 for nonresidents. To purchase a hunting license, nonresidents must have a Hunter Education Letter of Exemption from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. A hunting license from your home state is not sufficient proof that you have completed a hunter safety program.
State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
1130 N. Nimitz Highway, Suite A-152